Whatever our current goals are, when we dig beneath the surface, we all simply want to be happy. Based on an ancient teaching in modern terms, here are 8 steps to Bliss…
- Recognize the transient nature of this world. Nothing here lasts, including our bodies, our actions, and our experiences. However, that does not mean they are not important. While the form changes, this world and everything that is part of it will keep turning. Seeing things with clarity is always the first step to bliss.
- Check your intent. Behind every thought, every word, and every action, we have an intent. When we are not in alignment with our true intent, we delude ourselves and this invariably leads to suffering. By taking a moment to check in with ourselves and make sure our motivation is pure, we can prevent ourselves from causing harm to ourselves and others. If we lack self-control, seeing our real intent can help us understand the cost of our less than pure aspirations. This will allow us to work toward creating a pure intent behind everything we do and put us on the path to joy.
- Act with integrity. Our actions, although ephemeral, have an impact on this transient world. When we act with hatred, jealousy, or fear those states are mirrored back at us. When we act with loving-kindness and compassion, our mind opens and we experience a brighter and more beautiful place.
- Be honest when you speak. It’s amazing how easily we lie to each other and to ourselves. Even little white lies cloud the mind and compound the delusions that create misery. It becomes difficult to see what we are capable of doing; both our strengths and weaknesses become hidden. Without this basic level of humility – of being honest about where we are in our skills and understandings, we short-circuit our ability to grow in all areas of our life. Without growth, whether it’s in the context of material gains, emotional depth, or spiritual wisdom, joy always remains elusive.
- Earn your living in a way that enriches both yourself and society. Some people insist that to be happy, you must discover your dream job and make it pay the bills. While it’s wonderful when this happens, having a job that is not your particular ideal does not have to be an impediment to bliss. Consider the work you are doing, and ask yourself how it contributes to the betterment of society. Whether you work as a cashier or janitor or as a CEO, the work you do is important to the functioning of the larger whole. If you feel the person or company you work for is detrimental to society, then it’s time to go job hunting.
- Understand that whatever effort you put forth, no matter if it’s brushing your teeth or climbing a mountain, how you do it matters. When you approach the things you do with the attitude of obligation and stubbornness, you will not enjoy the outcome even if it’s successful. If you take the approach of giving your best effort, you will find joy in the process even when your activities fail to achieve the goal.
- Be mindful. In other words, pay attention to where you mind is all day long. The mind is a very powerful tool. It colors our perception and has the power to influence everyone with whom it comes into contact. By always directing your mind towards beauty and gratitude, it becomes easier to live in the present moment. It’s only from the present moment that we can clearly see what needs to be done and the means for doing it. This fluid, spontaneous action gives us a sense of connection to the world around us, where we feel the simple joy of movement.
- Learn to concentrate on one point. With so many distractions, it’s easy to get lost in the endless emails and posts and meetings and things to do. By training the mind to meditate, we learn how to be present in the center of the hurricane of existence. From this central place of silent stillness, pure Bliss arises.
By practicing these 8 steps daily, you will eventually find yourself in the blissful company of Buddhas…
To learn more, join me or one of the other teachers at Dharma Center in San Diego.
Or, check out Rama Meditation Society for an entire library of resources.
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